State of the Ocean workshops

Latest workshop: IPSO is convening a workshop in the spring of 2016 to investigate the threat posed to the ocean by marine toxic ingredients contained in personal care products. The findings of this workshop will be taken to an extended meeting held at the International Coral Symposium in June 2016.

In 2011 and 2012, in partnership with the IUCN and its World Commission on Protected Areas, IPSO held interdisciplinary scientific workshops to consider the latest science on the cumulative impact of multiple stressors on the ocean, including warming, acidification and overfishing.

The purpose of these workshops – and the reports and papers published from them – was to provide a holistic, integrated view of the challenges that the ocean faces and then the actions needed to achieve a healthy global ocean.

The scientific evidence that marine ecosystems are being degraded as a direct result of human activities is overwhelming and the consequences for the vital – and valuable – ocean goods and services that we rely on, including for the maintenance of a healthy Earth System, are alarming.

Recent assessments by the UN’s climate change panel, the IPCC, show that these changes are progressive and relentless – while terrestrial temperature increases may be experiencing a pause this is not true for the ocean, which continues to warm regardless. For the most part, however, the public and policy-makers are failing to recognise, or choosing to ignore, the severity of the situation and are not taking the action necessary to address it.

The core conclusions from the workshops are: the risks to the global ocean and the ecosystems it supports have been significantly underestimated; the extent of marine degradation as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts; it is happening at a much faster rate than previously predicted.

The 2012 workshop additionally reviewed new material and evidence, which became available after the April 2011 workshop, and concluded that the threats to the ocean were even faster, bigger and closer than the first workshop set out – there was an accelerated rate of change, which was bigger in scale and closer in time in terms of the impacts being felt.

Professor Chris Reid, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth, highlights the speed of changes in the global ocean, which has been greater than most scientists predicted, even in worst-case senarios.
Professor Charles Sheppard of Warwick University gives perspective to the extinction threat facing coral reefs – and stresses that the knock-on effects are already being felt on land.